Sustaining a Controversy: The Non-classical Ion Debate

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (4):787-816 (2013)
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This article examines a scientific controversy that raged for twenty years in physical organic chemistry during the second half of the twentieth century. After explaining what was at stake in the non-classical ion debate, I attempt—by examining the methodological reflections of some of the participants—a partial explanation of what sustained this controversy, particularly during its early stages. Instead of suggesting a breakdown of scientific method or the unavoidable historical contingency of scientific development, the endurance of this controversy instead reveals the heuristic and pragmatic character of many of the explanations and predictions generated by theoretical organic chemistry. The results in this case are used to suggest a new role for the study of scientific controversies in revealing the economics of scientific inquiry. 1 Introduction2 The Non-classical Ion Debate3 Models for the 2-Norbornyl System4 Soft Theories and Reasoning by Analogy5 Scientific Controversy and the Non-classical Ion Debate6 Conclusion



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William Goodwin
University of South Florida

Citations of this work

Revolution and progress in medicine.William Goodwin - 2015 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 36 (1):25-39.

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References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Otto Neurath.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
The social construction of what?Ian Hacking - 1999 - Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

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